It's the dawn of a new, uncomfortable day for Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who achieved infamy yesterday when it was revealed he was the hunter who felled the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe. The New York Times and Washington Post today have more on how Palmer and his guides lured the 13-year-old lion out of his sanctuary in Hwange National Park: According to the chair of the non-governmental Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, Palmer's party sighted the lion at night using a spotlight, and affixed a dead animal to their car to lead Cecil from the reserve into unprotected territory. It claims the men scented an area about three-tenths of a mile from the park. Cecil was first injured by a shot from Palmer's crossbow, then killed nearly two days later by Palmer, via gun. Chair Johnny Rodrigues alleges that "the hunters then found that the dead lion was wearing a [GPS] tracking collar, which they unsuccessfully tried to hide."
Cecil was skinned and beheaded, and his body "left to rot in the sun," as the Times puts it. Rodrigues yesterday said the head has been tracked down and impounded as evidence, reports the Guardian. The BBC adds that it's thought Cecil was killed July 1, though his corpse wasn't found until days later. Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association say "ongoing investigations to date suggest that the killing of the lion was illegal since the land owner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015. Therefore, all persons implicated in this case are due to appear in court facing poaching charges." Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and landowner Honest Ndlovu accompanied Palmer and are making that court appearance today; the poaching charges carry up to 15 years. A parks and wildlife rep told the Post professional hunters and landowners are usually the first to be charged in these instances. Palmer is reportedly being sought in connection with the case. Here's what Palmer has to say.